Marcello Basini shares his recipe for an authentic Italian pizza, as recreated by Victoria Brown
“If it’s a good pizza, I like it simple,” says Marcello Basini of Jumi Cheese. “As an Italian my favourite is the margherita.” Marcello uses a ‘mother’ or ‘starter’ for his pizza dough, but as most people are unlikely to have that to hand, I’ve given the option of using yeast as well.
He makes his dough the night before, then knocks it back in the morning and leaves it to rise again until the evening. You can get away with letting it rise for 2 hours first time, knocking it back and then letting it rise again for another 30 mins, but the longer it proves, the better.
Domestic ovens are not hot enough to cook the dough like a proper pizza oven. Marcello’s top tip is to cook the dough for 5-10 mins at the highest temperature your oven will go before adding the toppings. He prefers to use fresh tomatoes for his sauce, but only when there are good ones available, otherwise he uses tinned tomatoes or passata. He also condones using a rolling pin: “It is difficult to make a perfectly stretchy dough at home.”
For the dough:
1 small ball of mother dough or 1 tbsp instant yeast
400g flour, plus extra for dusting
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
2 tbsp olive oil
250ml lukewarm water
For the topping:
2 large tomatoes, finely diced, or 1 cup chopped tinned tomatoes or passata
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 sprig of oregano or rosemary, leaves finely chopped
100ml olive oil
1 large ball mozzarella, sliced
A few basil leaves
To make the dough, in a large mixing bowl, mix together the starter or yeast and the flour, salt and sugar. Mix 1 tbsp of olive oil with the lukewarm water and pour into the bowl with the other ingredients. Mix with your hands until all the ingredients come together.
Dust a large, dry surface with flour and knead the dough on it for 15 mins until smooth and elastic. Roll into a ball. Put 1 tbsp of olive oil in a clean mixing bowl (not ceramic, too cold) and put the dough in the bowl. Cover with a tea towel and leave in a warm, dry place to prove for at least 2 hours, but preferably overnight. Knock back and let it rise again for at least 30 mins.
To make the topping, put the tomatoes in a bowl and mix with the garlic, oregano or rosemary and most of the olive oil. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Leave for at least 30 mins to allow the flavours to develop.
Preheat the oven to the highest possible temperature. Break your dough into 2 even balls. Dust a large, dry surface with flour and roll out the dough balls with a rolling pin into two large circles.
Dust two large flat metal trays with flour, put the pizza bases on these and bake for 5-10 mins until golden. Take them out, turn the heat down to 200C and add the tomato sauce to each. Cook for another 5 mins. Lastly, add the slices of mozzarella and cook for 5 mins more.
Serve immediately with fresh basil leaves and a drizzle of olive oil.
Recipe: Marcello Basini